ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – Receding flood waters are revealing extensive damage at the Columbia Bottom, located off Riverview Drive, roughly 3 miles north of I-270.
The Missouri Department of Conservation closed the area to the public because it is inaccessible to vehicle traffic. The visitor center area was unaffected and will remain open.
The massive flood waters that crested the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area levee June 2 and toppled the State Champion eastern cottonwood tree, also left a large portion of the area’s road system devastated, among other damage.
As the water receded last weekend, a 40- to 50- foot breach in the Missouri River levee was revealed. The result of breach wreaked havoc on the main asphalt road and bicycle path that runs parallel to the levee.
“There’s a good half mile section of the road is just busted up and laying in pieces,” said Andy Tappmeyer, Area Manager at Columbia Bottom.
The breach left gashes in the road as deep as six feet, leaving temporary “ponds” along the path.
Powerful currents and floating debris were responsible for destruction of a boat ramp, fishing jetty and capsizing a permanent stone privy, officials say.
“We can’t judge the situation on the rest of the area because there is still water on much of it,” Tappmeyer says. “We’re hoping by the first of next week the water will drop enough for us to assess the remaining damage.”
The area must dry out before work can begin. Officials say a time frame for repairs is uncertain because it depends on the weather and any other damage that has yet to be discovered.
MDC officials say the damage may take months to repair, but their hope is to have the area fully accessible by the 2013-2014 fall duck hunting season.